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  • Roberto White

The Liberal Democrats: An Affront to British Democracy

The great thing about elections is that they give you the chance to take a look the state of politics, see what party you think will best tackle the issues you deem important and more often than not, debate your friends who disagree with what you believe in.

Personally, I am going to vote Conservative. But let’s say that for the sake of argument, I say “well why not vote for the Liberal Democrats?” Well, how long do you have?

Let’s start with the issue that everyone has been talking about for the last three years: Brexit. The Liberal Democrats are the only party in the UK that have made it their policy pledge to CANCEL Brexit all together. Should they get elected to the House of Commons with a majority - which under our electoral system is nearly impossible - they have vowed to revoke Article 50 and scrap Brexit all together. The fundamental problem with this is that you are telling the people who have voted TWICE in favour of Brexit that their voice does not matter. The 2016 referendum and more recently, the 2019 European Elections both show that the British public want to leave the European Union. It is not only ignorant, but also an insult to the very fabric of democracy in Britain to advocate for such a policy.

But moving on, surely their other policies would make sense, as they are the “centrist” party? This does not seem to be the case. With regards to immigration, they want to take immigration policy-making and administration away from the Home Office. How can they propose such a thing? The Home Office has proved itself to be a vital institution in keeping our borders safe. Sajid Javid perfectly exemplified this as Home Secretary when he refused to allow Shamima Begum, the teenager from Bethnal Green who went to fight for the Islamic State, back into the UK, and rightly so. Removing the Home Office from the process of immigration is simply absurd.

The Liberal Democrats also want to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year olds and all EU citizens who have been living in the UK for five years or more. There is a twofold problem with this. The average 16 or 17-year-old is simply not mature enough to vote. Of course there are some who are exceptionally mature for their age and granted, there are a lot of 18 year olds who, in my opinion, lack the maturity to vote but the fact of the matter is that the voting age should remain at 18. Why? Because if you need to be 18 to have a pint or buy a pack of cigarettes, then you should be 18 years old to vote. There are certain standards and norms that a society must uphold, and the right to vote at age 18 is one of them. Furthermore, the idea of allowing EU citizens to vote in British elections is simply preposterous. The privilege of voting in our elections should not be extended to citizens of another state because that invalidates the whole idea of voting. If any European that lived here long enough could vote what kind of message is that telling British people? That their right to vote can be extended to other people that were not born in this country? It is an absurd proposition and an even worse policy pledge. The Liberal Democrats should be ashamed of promoting such an idea.

However, one of the most concerning parts of their policy pledge is their desire to scrap our electoral system - First Past the Post (FPTP) - and implement a system of proportional representation. What’s wrong with this? Well one needs to look no further than Germany, Italy or Sweden to see that proportional representation simply does not work. Why? Because by allowing such a diverse body of groups to have a seat in Parliament, there is so much diversity in ideas that no one can agree on anything and Parliament reaches a standstill. Furthermore, a system of proportional representation gives the chance of far-right and far-left parties to gain seats in Parliament, as has happened in Sweden, and I think we can all agree that we want to keep those parties out of power. First Past the Post may not be a perfect system but it is what we have, and proportional representation will not solve its shortcomings.

One area in which I will give some credit to the Liberal Democrats is their policy on the environment. They have committed to tackling climate change by reaching 80% renewable energy by 2030 and to ban fracking. The target of 80% renewable energy is admirable in principle, but practically it would require a complete restructuring of the energy industry which would cost an enormous amount of money and harm those on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder the most. Whilst I do not support fracking, the appeal of it is that it allows companies to access hard-to-reach sites of oil and gas whilst helping to keep oil and gas prices down. If the Liberal Democrats were to ban fracking, it is my belief that we would see a sharp increase in the price of oil and gas, which would be problematic for all.

Whilst under the Cameron government the Liberal Democrats might have retained some level of credibility, the 2019 version of the party clearly resonates something else. You don’t have to vote Conservative in this election but for the love of God, please don’t vote for the Liberal Democrats.

Image: Flickr/Liberal Democrats

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